VCU Summer Camp in Philosophy

A day camp for high school students interested in asking big questions, learning about new perspectives and seeing the world in a new way

The camp is organized and led by faculty members from VCU’s Department of Philosophy, and is held in person at VCU’s beautiful Richmond campus.

Students will spend each day at camp digging into a diverse array of engaging activities that introduce them to the exciting world of philosophy. Students will play games, perform theatrical dialogues, create and share presentations, pose questions to expert guest speakers, race around VCU’s campus on a scavenger hunt, and make lifelong friends in deep conversations about timeless questions.

Theme: The Meaning of Life

A man looking up at the galaxy

Our lives are temporary, unpredictable, and full of seemingly random events. Even once we know all the facts about how a person spent her life, it might be hard to tell what her life was all about, or indeed, whether it was really about anything. 

This is where philosophy steps in; much of the greatest philosophy that’s ever been written aims to help us understand what (if anything) gives lives meaning and significance. Philosophers make progress on questions like the following:

  • Is it possible for a human life to have a meaning? If so, which lives are meaningful ones?
  • Is the meaning of a life more like something that we discover, or is it more like something we create?
  • If nothing we do is permanent, does that mean that nothing we do matters?
  • Do meaningful lives have to be lives that make for good stories?
  • Is an afterlife–a life that continues after death–possible?
  • Would immortality be desirable? Should we hope to live forever?

In 2023, the VCU Summer Camp in Philosophy will be devoted to questions like these ones–questions, that is, about the meaning of life. Join us for an unforgettable week of inquiry, teamwork, and learning about one of the most important topics that there is!

Eligibility

VCU’s Summer Camp in Philosophy is open to any student who will be in high school (grades 9-12) in the 2024-25 school year or who was in high school in the 2023-24 school year. This usually means that eligible students will be between 14 and 19 years old. The camp organizers are committed to making the program available to all eligible students. Students with disabilities are welcome and encouraged to apply.

Tuition

Tuition is $125 per student and covers all the costs of instruction, materials and daily lunch. We believe financial need should not prevent any student from attending camp. Need-based financial aid, in the form of full scholarships, is available. Students can declare financial need in their online application form.

Application

Applying to camp requires submitting two forms:

  1. An application form, to be filled out by a student and a parent/guardian
  2. An academic recommendation form, to be filled out by an adult who knows the student’s academic work (usually a teacher)

There are limited spots available for camp, and students are admitted on a rolling basis. Apply today!

Contact

James Fritz, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
fritzj@vcu.edu

‘It’s a way of thinking’: VCU summer camp opens high school students’ eyes to philosophy

VCU News, 8/1/22

The VCU Summer Camp in Philosophy, held for the first time this year, saw high school students prepare presentations on ethics and moral philosophy around abortion, cloning, euthanasia, legalization of drugs, racism and more.

High school students at the V.C.U. Summer Camp in Philosophy participate in a mock trial at the Academic Learning Commons at V.C.U.